Manziel credits Wilson for paving way for smaller QBs

Manziel is thankful Wilson paved the way for smaller QBs. (USATSI)
Johnny Manziel is thankful for Russell Wilson's success. (USATSI)

Russell Wilson would be a first-round pick if he was entering the draft this spring. But back in 2012, before we all knew just how good he would be, there were concerns that he might be limited by his height. Wilson is officially listed as 5-feet-11, but the more important numbers are these: a 28-9 career record as a starter and one Lombardi Trophy.

And that success in such a short period of time hasn't gone unnoticed. It's often said that the NFL is a copycat league, which is great news for Johnny Manziel, the 6-foot former Texas A&M quarterback who is thankful for Wilson's trailblazing success.

"I think he's kicked the door wide open," Manziel, who could be the first player drafted in May, told the Houston Chronicle about Wilson. "You're seeing more guys being successful avoiding that first wave of pressure -- get out and do things outside the pocket.

"Wilson does some things he's not asked to do, when things don't go exactly as scripted. He's able to extend the play. One reason [the Seahawks] were so successful early in the Super Bowl was that he was 4 of 5 on third down and was able to continue to push the ball down the field and get them where they needed to be."

To be fair, Wilson isn't the first undersized NFL quarterback to have success. Once Doug Flutie got an opportunity in the league, he played well. And then there's Super Bowl winner Drew Brees, who was the Chargers' second-round pick in 2001.

But Wilson and Manziel (and Flutie, back in the day) can run, both in the pocket and downfield, something Brees has never been known for.

"The game's evolving," Manziel said. "More and more [pass rushers] like [defensive end Jadeveon] Clowney are coming out of college, and they're big, and they can run. You have to be able to create plays.

"I want to be a pocket passer, too, and be able to pick apart defenses and beat teams with my arm. But when a play breaks down, the scrambling and running ability [take over], and we're back to doing what I've been doing the past six years playing football."

According to the most recent NFLDraftScout.com/CBSSports.com mock drafts, Manziel won't make it past the Browns with the No. 4 pick. Rob Rang and Pat Kirwan have the Jags taking Manziel third overall while Dane Brugler and Pete Prisco think Manziel will end up in Cleveland.

CBS Sports Writer

Ryan Wilson has been an NFL writer for CBS Sports since June 2011, and he's covered five Super Bowls in that time. Ryan previously worked at AOL's FanHouse from start to finish, and Football Outsiders... Full Bio

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